Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trust Your Game

Confidence, pressure, trust in your game, nerves..... there are so many things that can affect how we perform in our pool matches.

One of my friends said during her team event here at ACS Nationals in Vegas that she just doesn't have the confidence in her game.

I told her we all have nerves, feel pressure, wonder about confidence etc. 

But, how do we overcome those thoughts to still perform well under those conditions to have faith and trust in your game.?

That's the key word:  TRUST.

The top players all have nerves, feel pressure, etc.  But what separates us from the amateurs is trust in our ability.   

When we have that, that's when we play our best.  Sure, we might think about who we are playing, what we are playing for, that the team we are playing is suppose to win, but those thoughts and feelings don't get as much in the way when we have trust in our game, in our ability.

Trust your game, peeps.  You'll be surprised how much better you perform with this concept.  Try it; you'll like it.  I promise.  :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Top Players Have Pressure, Too

Katniss of Project Hunger Games has already, in just two weeks of being part of the blog, has cross-pollinated with The Danielson Series!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Danielson's confidence increasing because he's found himself in a new position lately - as one of the best players on his new league.

Katniss read the blog entry and shared she really liked the topic. I told her, "I thought of you too, actually.  Because you help some of your teammates and also because you are a top player in your league - so you have the same feelings of confidence because of those things, right?"

She said, "Yes ma'am." (she's so polite lol), but also shared, "But in my case I feel pressure at times, also.  Because everyone thinks so highly of my game, I feel pressure sometimes keeping up my performance at that level all the time.  That's not possible, though, and so I looked at that as a failure and take it harder than anyone else."

I shared with her I used to also have the same feelings of positiveness and pressure at the same.  Although we gain confidence, being a top player can definitely lead to pressure, too.

It is actually really weird dynamics to have confidence, but also feel all on eyes are on us which adds pressure, lol.

Katniss added, though, something really awesome: "But over time, I have learned that with each bad performance is an opportunity for a great come back to show my peers that I too am human and can have bad days.  It's all part of the learning process.  :)  "

I was so pleased and happy to hear she sees some of the tough times as a learning experience because that is one of the best tools in our toolbox!

I'm so glad she's a great learner and see's such positiveness out of it all.  :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pool at the Pool

I was asked to help at ACS Nationals this year.  Before the long, full days started at the admin desk registering all the excited players, I was able to sit by the pool one day to catch some rays, soak in some sun, decompress from things back home, and get a good Vegas tan.

As I get up to affix my towel better on my lawn chair, I notice a cool thing from the corner of my eye - a pool table!

So, of course I took pics for you all, to capture the blue-felted table sitting among the beautiful Tropicana swimming pool.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Puppy Love at ACS Nationals

Grace Nakamura has her best furry friend, "Eightball," with her all the times, even selling raffle tickets AND playing in tournaments!  She placed 3rd in her last event with Eightball literally by her side!

Here they are at the ACS Nationals selling raffle tickets for Jacoby Custom Cues.

Eightball was a huge it with the fans! 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Confidence in Scotch - Project Hunger Games

For the first edition of Project Hunger Games, Katniss talked me about a scotch doubles tournament she played in.

I hope that players who play scotch doubles really listen to this to get the best possible play from their partner.

Katniss played with a really strong player, but in the very first match in the middle of one of the games, he told her, "I really thought you were going to shoot the 14 ball."

So, let's think about this.  At this very moment she isn't thinking, "I am shooting good and really like playing with XXX."  She is pumped up, happy, confident and sitting up straight in her chair ready to shoot again.

NOooooooo.  She's now second guessing herself, starting to feel defeated, losing confidence, etc.  

A few games later, he says it AGAIN.  "I thought you saw the 5 ball, thought you were going to shoot that."

Katniss is now mentally out of the game.  She's frustrated, wondering what she should do, confused on choices, losing her confidence,and going straight downhill.

She confided to me (and you readers) not only did her confidence go down during the rest of that scotch doubles tournament, she also felt unconfident the rest of the week at her leagues.

You see, scotch doubles players need to be lifted up, not shot down.  It may seem like his words weren't harmful, but they WERE.  If he wanted her to shoot something else, or a better shot, he could have gone over them AFTER the tournament was over.  But to raise doubt in her game in the middle of a match and the middle of a tournament did the exact opposite.  

A lot of scotch players do not realize the most innocent of comment can derail a teammate.  We start second guessing everything, wondering if we are shooting the correct shot, and then we play timid, unsure, and scared.

When my scotch partners have shot at a ball that I did not set them up for or I didn't understand why, the very LAST thing I did was lean over and say, "Uh, what are you doing?"  lol.  I didn't want them to think I was judging their decision or second guessing them.  I wanted their best from that point on, not a partner who was wondering what they are suppose to do, just because I asked a question.

The VERY best scotch doubles partners are the ones who make me laugh, never question my choices during a match, but also might show me shots after the match/tourney is completed.  Let me play my game, in order to be your best partner.  If you make me nervous about wondering what you expect me to do, I can't play my best at all.

And as a reminder, the effects can last way after the match.  So, I'm begging scotch partners to tread lightly, have fun, enjoy the chance to play together.  Then go over shots later.  :)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Playing Better Because of Confidence - the Danielson Series

Wanted to chat a minute about Danielson and his new boost of confidence from an unlikely source.

By joining a new league!

His APA teammates see him as a higher-ranked player because even though he may not be a top player (yet) he is still a better than most of his teammates.  He's often the one the call on when they take a time out. 

I can't begin to express enough how much this is a confidence booster!  And his recent finishes are starting to show that.

He played well in a regional qualifier and then placed 2nd in an APA weekend tournament.  I asked him why he thought he was playing well. 

He responded laughing, "Probably cause they think I play better than I think I play.. LOL"

"Well," I stated, "That doesn't really explain why you are playing better lol."

He responds, "It might... they treat me like the DFW Tour treats Rick Stanley."  (Rick Stanley is one of the top players on that tour.)

I asked Danielson to explain further.

"Well, the way they talk to me or talk about me makes me feel better about what I'm doing.  And I think it translates into me actually playing better.   It's a very weird dynamic.  And definitely not one I'm use to. "

I asked him, "It's a huge confidence booster, right?"

"Yeah.. and I'm getting the results of feeling better."

You see, Danielson is going through a normal part of our pool journey.  When we start to be the one people come to to ask questions, or people start to talk about us - the feeling it gives us is confidence and it radiates directly to our pool game.  We feel better, we shoot better.  Goes hand in hand.

I can pinpoint exactly when this started to happen to me.  Ironically I had joined a new league, too (a women's league) and I found myself being looked up to because I was one of the top players all of a sudden in the league.  The other leagues I was on was full of master male players who had been playing for years and years, so on those I was a little fish in a big pond.  But on the new league, I became the player people wanted on their team.  Me?  It took a while to get used to, but as Danielson shared with us, it's a huge confidence booster.

Getting to this point in our pool journey is a very amazing place.  Danielson is correct - it's a very weird dynamic, but also is huge step in our progress; just as Danielson is seeing/feeling.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sweet Surprise

I love when I visit places and get to see an unexpected surprise. Like the other day when I went to a neighbors house for a meeting with the Home Owners Association committee that I am on.

I walk in and see this!

Pretty cool, huh?!  I love home pool rooms!

The few pool tables I had throughout my life, I never had a separate dedicated room - we just put the pool table in the largest room (usually the living room).  So, to see this was a treat!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rude Players Create a Stigma

Competition can really bring out the worst in us sometimes.  Right?

But what's interesting is, it's not who we are away from the table.

Take John McEnroe as an example.  He LOSES it on the court.  Yet when he commentates, you can tell he's not emotional and mad all the time, lol.

Here's the thing about competing.  If we are an extrovert and we wear our feelings on our sleeves, we may be a sore loser when we lose.  We may quip as we limply shake your hand, "I'd say nice game, but you only got lucky."


However, if we are an introvert that keeps our feelings inside, we would shake our oppoents' hand when we lose and bite our tongue.  We may vent to a friend, blog about it on the internet, lol, but we wont make a crappy, uncalled for comment to our opponent.

Here's another situation - many players learn or figure out eventually to not act that way (rude).  I know numerous players who used to act crappy after they lost, and now they are cordial.  Sometimes it's takes great self-reflection, control and learning to stop that "habit."

But this leads to an interesting point I'd like to share.

Because again, many people who spout off, are rude, or make crappy comments, they aren't that way all the time.  Competing brings that out.  Their emotions of losing, the sting of the loss, the bite of feeling embarassed - THOSE are the things that causes most of the rude comments to come from our mouths lol.

However, what this does is it is causes an unfortunate observation from people who don't know them personally.  And then they get a vison in their head, "Wow, that girl was a bitch and rude."  And then we immediately don't like them.

This is normal.

But what you pleasantly find out when you get to know them away from the table is how great they actually are!  Almost 95% of the players I thought were rude and obnoxious, were actually really great people.  Sure, there are 5% of the players who really are rude assholes and bully's.  But 95% of them are really cool, dependable, nice, people!

So, while it's normal to judge someone on how they react after they lose.  What is more surprising is when you get to know them and they become your friends.

Many of the rude players happen to be top players, right?  Not all, obviously, but many of them play good.  So when I joined their team or I formed teams (because we want the best teams, right?), that's when I learned most of the "rude" players were actually great people!  Many even became good friends.

Don't get me wrong - I'd still not like to compete against any of them because of their attitude on the table lol.  But if you get a chance to maybe have dinner and get to know those 95%, it actually becomes a surprising blessing.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Introducing, Project Hunger Games!

Taking a cue from the Danielson Series, which has been well received, I am adding a new series:   "Project Hunger Games"!

This is the same concept - a player shares their experiences / questions before or after a tournament / league night, and I share our discussion and learning experiences all directly to you, via my blog!

The difference this time is the player is a chick.  A girl?!  Yep, a female player. :)

When her and I were trying to come up with a name for the project/series, we were looking at strong, leading women who are quick learners.  You know, like Uma Thurman or Clarice/Jodie Foster.  She thought of Katniss of the Hunger Games movies/books and what even made that choice even more perfect, she shared, "I have been told by some players that they wish they still had the hunger and drive like I have.... even though my pool journey is just starting to where they have many years of experience."

I'm excited to share her growth through this blog so others can learn, too!

While she is not going to be identified, I want to publicly applaud her for her courage to have this journey out in the open to share her thoughts, pains, learning experiences, excitements!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Keep It Simple Method

A lot of us think that the top players are good because they make hard shots all the time.  Right?  They can execute them much more consistently than us average players.  Damn them!  j/k :)

However, that is actually not true.

I wrote a few years back how I noticed a top player was always leaving shape in the middle of the table (on a bar box).  Us amateurs try and get perfect shape all around the table (and usually fail from trying to move the cueball all around).

A top player recently told me, "When we play good, it's not the hard shots we make; it's the shots we make easy."

I asked him to clarify:  "Great pool is about making things easy, and making every easy shot.  It's not making hard shot after hard shot.  Playing the simplest of shape always makes the game much easier."

And he's right!  Think about how many times we have heard, "This pro makes pool look easy."  Or how about how we secretly kinda wish the players on tv would miss more - to show the general audience that this is truly a tough game!

But the key is - pros are pros because they ensure they make all the easy shots (a lot of us amateurs taken them for granted and rush the easy ones) and they also keep things simple.  They notice the patterns and the correct side of the object ball to be on, otherwise it IS harder and tougher on them.  However, they have learned the secret:  keep it simple, make it easy.

How are you playing today?  Making it hard on yourself or easy?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Friends Away From the Pool Table

I remember very vividly I had to play Vivian Villarreal in a pro tournament (the Ultimate 10-Ball Challenge) here in the Dallas-area about 6 years ago.  I wasn't playing top pool back then, but I could still hold my own at times.

I knew Vivian was going to defeat me.  She was a pro and I was barely an amateur lol.  But Vivian and I are friends - she grew up in San Antonio and so did I and we've been friends FOREVER.  I even used to be her webmaster, so this isn't my imagination that we are friends, people!

So when I saw we had to play each other, I felt very calm going into the "pro arena" knowing I'd be playing a friend my first match and it really helped my nerves.  I looked at her more of a friend than a top WPBA Pro Player.  I also secretly thought to myself that she would be easy on me because we were friends.  You know, not really torture the newbie, be kind to me.

I was wrong.

Dead wrong!

She NEVER let up!  She treated me like everyone else - someone she needed to get through to win the title.  I was merely a stepping stone, not at all a friend.



I think I lost 9-1 or something.  I wasn't too embarrassed for losing so badly, but I admit I had really hoped for like a 9-5 score where she would not play so tight a few games and I could get more beads on the score board, but OH NO.

I wasn't embarrassed, though, because I had been too busy watching this master on the table.  She wasn't timid, she was confident, she was making shots and getting in line - I was in awe.  And I was grateful to witness it so close (even if I was her opponent getting beat lol).

The thing is, she did EXACTLY what she was suppose to do.  We aren't friends on the table.  We hugged before and after, but that was it - it was all business - as it should be.

I had incorrectly assumed she would be "nice" to me.  And yet she should do no such thing!  And, she knows this.  There is no friendship - and she plays pool for a living and can't be trying to be nice to the amateurs in tournaments!  She needs to make that money, play tight.

I find it interesting I had these thoughts back then.  I was so na├»ve for sure!  When I was on top of my game, I'd rather her play tight and try and beat me 9-0!  Instead, as a newbie and a VERY green amateur, I had hoped for a bit of saving face, lol.

Great lesson she taught me that day!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Deciding to Play or Not

I had an opportunity to play scotch doubles back in March. Are you ready for all the details of it?

Are you sure?

Okay, here it goes!

I chickened out.


You see, I'm not in denial. I don't play like I used to because I'm not competing anymore. Sure, I have moments of greatness when I do play, but it's nothing like it used to be.

As a matter of fact, I didn't throw in the towel right away when the opportunity arose. I actually waited to see how I would play when I gave a lesson (remember, I don't watch my client's play and then point to what they should do, I spar with them and we talk about all our options). I told myself, "If you play good, go ahead and play in the scotch doubles event."

Well, I played FANTASTIC! I always find myself surprised when I play good, lol. It reminds me that because my fundamentals were so solid toward the end of my career, they still are.

But I'm not fooling myself. That's practice. Put me on the stream table competing and my mental toughness is thrown out the door and I play like my arms are wobbly and I'm paddling like crazy in a sinking boat, lol. I just don't play enough anymore to be a threat. And I'm okay with that - I'm actually much happier! But I also don't want to put myself through the angst trying to play well.

One of my exes went through this and stated, "My lack of confidence and struggling is just making me not have fun. I guess I should just accept this fate of sucking since I don’t practice, but I’d rather just quit than accept being less than. "

Boy, do I hear those words! I'd rather be doing less stressful things in my life than trying to play well, when I know I can't anymore. Life is short, right?

Don't get me wrong - pool is a beautiful sport! And I played for 25 years competitively.

However, the fact I struggled and debated so much with the idea of should I play or not, is the true answer: I was too apprehensive to play.

Just like with many decisions in life, if we can't decide on something and are struggling with what to do (or not to do) then that usually means we don't really want to do it. In other words, if we have no hesitation and are excited, then that means we really want to do that something. Too much "should I?" or "do I want to?" usually means deep down we don't want to.

Now peeps, don't tell me to start practicing and don't tell me to start playing more. I don't want to. I'm actually much happier stepping away.

Athletes in top sports still compete even though they aren't in their prime anymore. But they have sponsors and are being paid to show up....hmm, those things aren't knocking at my door for some reason lol.

So, when the opportunity comes up to play or compete, am being realistic. And that reality for me is I don't play like I used to, and that makes it stressful, which is one of the main reasons I stepped away. Who needs more stress? hahaha

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blog Has Grown With Me

I find it interesting the path my blog has taken in the last 12 years.

I went from simple stats after a tournament, to pain-staking-details-to-the-reader of every match during my tournaments, to lessons learned, to giving tips, to sharing things I experienced, to insights/observations, to leadership, to people and feelings.

The blog has grown with me. From the fish out of water trying to play pool, to the confident, more honest person one sees today.

I used to not share the details of my personal life and feelings in my blog, now I am an open book and share things a lot more than I ever expected I would. From the depressing or tough learning experiences to the feelings we go through during defeat. I also talk more about "life" things, ie. even death. I love how my blog has evolved from "who is this girl?" to "look at that woman."

Life is about learning from our experiences, and making experiences happen. Not sitting around thinking of our dreams, but going for them.

Look at your own pool journey. You aren't the same immature player/person, you are more mature, too. Don't you just love yourself more? I do. And you should, too!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Grandson Got His Own Cue

I wrote before how I had run across 3 generations of pool players back in December.  Here is the photo of Grandpa, son and grandson:

When I gave a lesson back in February, I saw them again.  I went up to them (they were on the non-smoking side of the pool room) and said my hello's.  I told them I had indeed posted their photo on my blog and they were excited.

Then the grandson exclaims to me, "And since that photo, I got my own cue!"

"Oh, did you!?" I asked.

In December, he borrowed one of his Dad's cues for the photo op.

I asked what kind he got and he proudly shared, "Gator."  I asked, "Gator?"  "Yep, Gator by Champion," he said smiling.

Nice selections and good looking cue:  check them out for yourself.

We all remember our first cue!  How cool for him :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tighter Pool Family

Charlie Smith, who I interviewed for the March edition of Billiard Buzz posted this on social media:

"I want to thank Melinda Bailey for the article she did on me in Billiard Buzz. To be considered was an honor for me as an average pool player and individual. Melinda Bailey did a great job in asking the questions and the whole writing of the article. If you ever have the privilege of being ask to let her interview you, do it. The more we learn about our friends and their struggles in life and playing pool make the pool world a tighter family, IMHO. I think Melinda Bailey missed her calling by not being an Professional Interviewer.

Thanks again Melinda Bailey!"

While the thanks should really go to HIM for allowing us into his personal life, he makes a really cool point that the more we learn from our friends and their struggles in life, make the pool world a tighter family.

I couldn't have said it better myself, so wanted to share it here.

I hadn't thought of this aspect and I love it!  I share the interviews so we can learn from each other, but hadn't realized the additional benefit of it propelling the pool community into a tighter family.  He is spot on.

Thank YOU, Charlie!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What Have I Been Up To?

Everyone keeps asking me how I'm doing since they don't see me play pool anymore or run a big tournament in the Dallas/Fort Worth-area.  Well, I'm doing great!

Still blogging (as you can see), still doing interviews for Billiard Buzz (which I LOVE), still contributing to the billiards radio program (Mike Howerton still grilling me on air), but also doing things away from the pool room.

Here's a taste:

Volunteered for the Cowtown Clean Up:


Shooting guns:

I'm going to Florida next week for work.  Someone asked me, "You stopping by the pool room?"  Uh, no.  In the evenings after my work day, I am going to walk along the beach a lot and maybe find some parks to walk along.

I also just joined a 10-month class (one day a month for 10 months) to become a Certified Citizen Forester!  I'm super excited about helping out the community once I become officially certified.

I've also been asked to help with ACS Nationals, so I will be out there in Vegas during May helping out.  I am so honored to be considered as part of their team to help run this national event!

I am also going to be a guest speaker at the end of the month.  The program is entitled, "Practical, Logistical and Emotional Support For the Caregiver of the Chronically Ill" and I am a panelist, due to my experience with taking care of my Mom for so many years and helping run the Coalition of Quality of End of Life Care in Fort Worth, Texas.

So, been busy and will be busy with upcoming events.

However, as comes with every day activities, some things do arise, like this cute little gash and bruise:

Turns out large guns have kickback I wasn't expecting.  I was using a 308 Howa.  Whatever that means lol.  Means nothing to me, except I noticed the bullet was huge.  One review says, "the 308 round is deadly efficient and while having legendary precision accuracy performance at longer ranges."  And I can attest to the accuracy of the close range to noses as well haha!  I would find out later this is pretty common and affectionately referred to as a "scope kiss."  lol

I didn't break my nose and didn't need stitches, so I was fine.  However, one of my friends pointed out, "Bet you never came back from a pool tournament looking like"

LOL!  Hahaha!  :-/

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Negative Tourney Experience - The Danielson Series

Well, I didn't hear from Danielson again after this last tournament.  As I wrote last month, that means he probably didn't have a good finish.

And, he didn't.

Here's what happened from my point of view after hearing a few comments from him:  He wasn't happy with the tournament and therefore couldn't play his best with that distraction.

Danielson played in a tournament that he was already apprehensive about playing in because he had some concerns about how the tournament was being run. 

I can't stress enough that playing in a tournament where we feel respected, treated fairly, and appreciated for participating go A LONG way into our tournament experience.  We want honesty, openness and respect.  How can anyone have a good time if those things are missing?

Let's face it, it's already tough to compete.  We have distractions, dang mental toughness getting in the way, invisible pressure from the what ifs, distractions from home/personal life, players who shark, etc.  That's already a lot, lol!  But ADD to all that when we don't feel appreciated by the Tournament Director, makes one not even want to play.

That's a tough atmosphere to play in if you don't feel welcomed.  I'm not saying they are trying to kick Danielson out the door and I'm not saying the red carpet wasn't laid out for him (wait a minute - where was my red carpet??).  But what I AM saying is feeling comfortable, appreciated, respected, treated equally, etc., will keep us showing up even with the other distractions.

I wrote about this before back in 2011.  I highly recommend you take a moment to read that blog entry

Back then there was a group of pool playing bloggers who wrote about the same topic every month.  We called the project, PoolSynergy.  And that month we were to "write about any aspect of an event that you enjoyed and appreciated."  And I said:  "Well, for me, the best tournament experience is one where I feel appreciated and respected. That goes a long way to make the perfect tournament experience for me!"  And then I went into detail and gave real-life examples and situations.  Please go read it HERE.

How could Danielson play well under conditions were he didn't feel comfortable or respected about putting in his time to come compete?  He can't.  Well, he could - but it's super tough.

I applaud him for going to the event even though he had apprehensions and a gut feeling, because now those feelings are solidified.  And he wont have to waste money on that event any more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Improve Your Confidence

Just a few times just in the last week or so the topic of confidence came up.  Confidence and winning go hand in hand and it's an amazing jolt to our game.

However, what if you aren't winning?

Here's a tip:  Put yourself in a position to win!

What, Melinda?

I wrote about this exact topic back in 2011.  

Bottom line is, don't play in ONLY tough-ass tournaments all the time.  Or don't join the toughest league.  Sure, eventually you will get better.  But how about help yourself improve faster and win sooner by playing in not-so tough events.  If you get beat up all the time, when do you stand up?  If you get to win, you stand up taller and stronger.


There are more details there that explains the famous saying, "Winning Breeds Confidence and Confidence Breeds Winning."  

Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Handle Breaks in Matches

One of the coolest things about blogging is I get to share answers to questions.  One someone asks me a question, first and foremost I'm honored they even thought to come to me. Second, I get excited to share the discussion via my blog because if one person is asking, many others usually have the same question.  So, we all win from these questions / answers and learning.

A couple of months ago I got a random question on a weekend.  My friend was playing in a pretty big two-day tournament and was having an issue she wanted some guidance on, so she reached out to lil ole me.

She said, "Have you wrote about taking a break during a match?  Everyone has been doing it to me because I have been up fast in the beginning of the matches."

I told her I thought I did once, but instead of searching for the link, I just kinda dumped my thoughts in the message back to her.  Poor girl.  And now I'd like to do that for you here!  Because it REALLY is a great question.  How do you handle it when people take breaks in your match?

If you can hit balls while they are on the break, that helps.

Some people take breaks because they are trying to regroup.  It's not always to throw off their opponent.  So, imho, there's two ways to look at it.  And whichever is best for you to succeed, is how you need to look at it.  Some people are like me and see the positive in things, so if someone takes a break, I focus on my thoughts only.  If you are the type who thinks they might be trying a move, then get pissed about it and punish them on the table when they get back.  Don't get upset about it and let it affect your game.  Instead, make them pay for trying to throw your momentum off.

The problem for her this tournament it seemed like every match she was up, her opponents would take a break.  On top of that, she herself never takes a break (unless she is ill) so when it kept happening to her, it really affected her.  

I told her I also don't take breaks either (unless I have to pee badly).  I've never in my life taken one to try and affect my opponent.

But I told her again:  either don't take it personal and see it as they are trying to regroup, or punish them.  And then I reminded her to focus on what she can control.  That's important too.  We can't stop them from going to the bathroom or trying to shark us.  So, control yourself, remain calm, and control your pool game.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Follow-Up about Nancy

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a friend who asked my opinion if he should play his Nancy gambling anymore or not.

If you don't know who Nancy is - read about her here.  Real quick though, Nancy is the generic name of players we all have who we think we can beat, but we can't for some reason.

So, I suggested to my friend he should NOT continue to gamble with his Nancy.  At first I said he should because his opponent is a good gambler and he can learn from the guy.  But when he told me his confidence goes way down after he loses, and then he plays badly for days, I suggested he shouldn't play him after all.  To me, that's a no-brainer and you stop playing the guy.  My friend said another player gave him the same advice.


"Don't play him, not worth it if it lowers your confidence."

"Oh, hey, I'll do the exact opposite!"

Omg people, then why ask if you are going to be a rebel and go against suggestions?!?

Just kidding!  He can keep losing money and confidence - no skin off my back.

However, his report was pretty awesome:  He beat the guy!

Being nosey, I asked him what the difference was this time.  Why could he beat the guy now and he couldn't just literally days before?

"I knew I was supposed to win that game getting that spot.  I was so frustrated with myself for how I played against him that I had to overcome it." He added, "So, I just grinded it out."

He played the guy for two days straight (one day it was a 14-hour marathon).  

Although he didn't listen me at all or his other friend, lol, I am so glad he still played the guy!  He overcame a huge mental block/obstacle.  AND!  His opponent now wants weight!  My friend lost over 4 times to him and he never asked to adjust.  And now this guy is whining and wants to adjust the weight.  Btw, I warned my friend the guy would want to adjust if he finally lost (so, hey, I was right about something!).

Congrats to my friend on the wins!

Monday, March 19, 2018

March Interview in Billiard Buzz Mag is Out

I mentioned at the beginning of last year that I am now a contributor to the online billiard magazine, Billiard Buzz

My column is dedicated to interviewing people.

It's been one of my top 3 joys lately in the pool arena!  I just love conducting the interviews and getting to know others while I get to share their stories with you all.  We are so blessed we get the opportunity to learn from each other :)

I usually post the interviews all on one page each month, which one can get to from the top tab of my blog.  It's labeled, "Billiard Buzz Columns."

Looks like this, in case it's not obvious (see second tab):

Well, the March edition of Billiard Buzz is out and it's quite frankly too impactful for me NOT to give it a separate, dedicated blog entry.  This months interview is THE most moving interview I have conducted.  As the editor of Billiard Buzz (Mike Howerton) stated, "We dare you to keep dry eyes while reading Melinda Bailey's interview with Charlie Smith."

I want to thank Charlie for agreeing to let me delve into his humor, learn more about his loving wife Nancy, and share boldly the many tough times they have been through. You will be surprised, I promise.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Get Distracted When Reading

I mentioned in early March that Mike Howerton interrogated me on the new American Billiard Radio broadcast show.

Interrogated, inquisitioned, whatever.

If you don't have time to listen to the podcast (like I don't lol), I thought I'd share a little from that broadcast.  Why?  Well, because Mike asked me questions I normally don't get asked and consequently hadn't thought of to share.  I know what you're thinking, damn she shares a lot already!  But, Mike really probed me (ahem, verbally) and I realized the other night when I couldn't go back to sleep, that some of the answers I've never written about in my blog.  Blasphemy, I know!  So, I'm going to resolve that today for you.  Why?  Well, my name does start with "Me" and so it makes sense to talk about myself, right?  (I know, lame excuse).

One of the things he found fascinating (my word, not his) was that I try to blog 10-15 times a month.  Ask anyone, that's a lot!  He then was intrigued:  how do I come up with so many things to write about?  And I shared this tidbit I hadn't shared with anyone before:

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I share articles from magazine (online or in print) about things that I relate to pool.  However, it's not just online articles or magazines, it's anything I read.  And that kinda gets in the way of me getting through a book. 

For instance, I tried in January to read the recommended golf book, "A Good Walk Spoiled" and I couldn't concentrate!  By the 4th page I had around 5 things I could blog about that I could relate to pool that I read in the book!   Gosh, I get so distracted when I read books.  SO many things cross my mind, "Oh, I could write about that" or "Oh, yea, that reminds of this I could write about."  Even leadership books/articles from work - I will read a few pages and start using my highlighter like I'm on crack:  I underline or highlight so many things!  But, the highlighted sentences aren't for me to remember something that would be helpful at work, noooo, they are about things I want to write about in my blog!

Yes, seriously.

The other thing I shared with Mike (and the fans who listen to the podcast) is that I do not have Internet at home.  So, that means all the blog posts, all the interviews, and all the broadcasts are done from my work office after work hours.  Eeek, that may imply I have no social life, lol, but not having Internet at home is the reality I live in.  The homeowners have recently begun the process of a petition to get Internet in our area, but it's been this way for a very long time and I am used to it.  But, it's a little fact of the Melinda Bailey life lol.

I'll share more things like this in the future.  Strap your boots on!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be the Example

I mentioned the other day I am giving lessons to a new client.  She is good player and it's a joy to see her kick my butt!  

She is very similar to my other main client and is a quick learner, so I appreciate that a lot, lol.  Further, she also asks for clarification of my shot selections or questions a suggestion, which is really cool to be able to provide reasoning and further details of the whys.

The one area she needs to work on, which we talked about, is she tends to poke at the ball.  I don't see it all the time, just off and on, but if she could stay down and follow through more and consistently, she would be even more of a force to be reckoned with.

We talked about some tips to help her follow through more often, but following through and staying down is really something one has to figure out on their own what is the best thing to help them accomplish that.  I explained that staying down and following through on tough shots is really a beautiful feeling.  Yes, a feeling.  It truly is.  No way for me to explain it except when you have that smooth stroke, taking your time, following through, it feels, well, beautiful.

So, I find myself in a lucky situation!  It took me over 20 years to finally stay down and follow through and feel that beautiful smooth stroke, but I can always use reminders :).  So when her and I spar, I tend to exaggerate staying down and following through.  I do this so she can see for 3 straight hours someone consistently and steadily staying down, taking their time, and following through well.  I have proudly shared that watching those EXACT things for a few years on the Omega Tour on Sundays from the top players elevated my game because I started to emulate them and the effectiveness of staying down so well.

I want the same for her. 

It also proves that when staying down well, I make more of my shots.  (weird coincidence, huh?)  So, while I am staying down longer on my shots to help her, it is also hugely helping me re-instill this key component of my game.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

That One Player We Can't Beat - Nancy

When you play on a tour or often in weekly tournaments, you find yourself always running into Nancy.

Who is Nancy?  Well, Nancy is the generic name my friends and I gave to a player who always beat us.  ALWAYS.  We thought we were better than Nancy, but she still would beat us.  It was VERY frustrating!

Everyone's Nancy is different for each of us.  And Nancy isn't the top player on the tour or someone who is well above our level - she is just an average player we think we are better than.  But for whatever reason, she always freaking beats us!

I remember being at a tournament in Austin and one of my friends left the table, then came back and said, "Dammit."  I asked, "What?"  She said, "I have to play Nancy next!"  (again, the players name wasn't Nancy, it was the generic name we gave to each of our own nemesis's)  I asked her, "Why did you even check the chart, you know you aren't suppose to look ahead."  "I know," she replied, "But I was curious."

I would remind my friend to play the table, not the opponent, but let's face it - we can do that all day long but this Nancy person will still beat us.  Damn you, Nancy!

And Nancy never even knew she was a nemesis.  She was just enjoying the tournament and playing pool.

Several years would go by and our game would sharply improve and eventually we would beat Nancy!  Highlight of any tournament is when one would finally beat her.  The devil herself who always seemed to somehow beat us - except that day!  And then we'd beat Nancy again.  And eventually, some of us didn't have a Nancy anymore.  We improved.  We conquered.  We kicked Nancy's butt!

But why couldn't we beat each of our Nancy's?  We knew we were better than her, had better finishes (if we didn't run into her lol) and worked on our game more.  Normally, anyone with a Nancy is because we have a mental block of some sort with certain players.  And it normally happens by accident.  We don't go through our pool journey trying to find our Nancy.  We just happen to keep getting beat by the same player for a long time.  Until we finally don't!  And then she's gone.  No more Nancy.

But what if Nancy is a person you gamble with?  A friend of mine reached out to me about his Nancy.  And wondered, "Since I can't beat the guy, should I continue to gamble with him?" 

To be honest, the guy had TWO Nancy's he was asking about.  Poor fella.  Hell, one Nancy is enough!

Here's the difference, in leagues our tournaments, you have no choice to play your Nancy.  The bracket Gods set it up that way.  But when you gamble, you have the choice to play Nancy or not.  So, what should you do?

Here is my take on his question if he should keep playing his Nancy or not:  My friend had two Nancy's that he thought he should beat.  One was a tough, dug-deep kinda gambler who knew a lot about the game.  The other was just an average player.  My friend kept getting beat by both of them, even though he felt he had the advantage.  My opinion was there is no reason to play the average player.  What can you gain?  Broader shoulders if you beat him?  That's about it.  They weren't gambling for enough to even brag if he beat the guy.  The real gambler on the other hand, his other Nancy, my friend could learn a TON from him.  The guy has been gambling for decades, and really knows the game well.  I suggested to keep playing that Nancy, even though it will be tough.  But at least he'll be getting something out of the beatings lol.

Then he shared, "Well, when I play the better gambler and then lose, my confidence goes way down and then I play badly for days."

Well, that sealed it, "Then don't play him," I stated firmly.  No reason to get your confidence beat down imho.  There are a ton more guys he could be gambling with.

So, who is your Nancy?  And have you beat them yet?  If not, don't fret!  You will.  Just give yourself patience and time.  Nancy eventually is just a bump in the road.

P.S.  I have friend named Nancy and this is no relation to her at all.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What's on Your Happiness List?

I have a new client I am giving lessons to.  We have met a couple of times now to spar and talk about strategy.  We go to one of the local pool rooms (Rusty's Billiards in Arlington, Texas) where they have beautiful Diamond bar tables for us to play on.

Both times we have met up, of course there are players in there that I know.

Last month we practiced on the same weekend as the new DFW 9 Ball Tour was being held an hour away in Dallas.  Someone asked me, "Why aren't you there?"  Uh, why would I be there?  I don't run a Tour anymore and have no reason to drive an hour to be around smoke and drama.  Some others  asked, "Do you miss running it?" 

"NOPE, not one bit," I exclaimed smiling.

This past weekend was the same pattern.  About four players asked me how I was doing, do I miss running the tour, etc.  I would smile and say loudly, "Not at all!"

A few of the replies were, "You look good and stress-free.  I am glad you are happy."

It was a nice reaction for me to hear.  I think most of the players are finally accepting I really don't miss running the tour.  They are also seeing on my face and in my body language how happier I am from the lack of stress and drama and all the issues I had to deal with.

Sure, I miss seeing some of my friends, but I don't miss much else lol.  Sounds rude and selfish, but it's okay to be honest.  It was a lot of work and energy mentally and physically running the tour and took a lot of time.  The lack of stress, the more restful nights, and the happiness it brings my soul to be away from drama and long days in a smoke-filled pool room is something I am very thankful to finally have had the strength to walk away from.

I am proud to have been a stepping stone for the new tour and over the moon with excitement there is a still an avenue for players to play in the area (the new DFW 9 Ball Tour).  But I am also thankful to be away from it now.

Happiness is important in life.  How many books and articles and therapists have worked so hard to try and convince us we should make changes about things in our lives that would create more happiness for ourselves.  We nod in agreement, maybe raise our fists with a "YES!" movement, and we might even make a list of the things we want to do to help our happiness.  But then we never do anything to move us to a point to check off things from the all-important list we thought was so enlightening.

I was VERY happy running the Omega Tour for numerous years.  But once I became unhappy, I knew in my heart I needed to make a change.  It was an agonizing 6 month decision, and I cried just giving the announcement, that's how tough of a decision it was.  But now that I no longer run the tour, I have noticed I have become happier.  Did I know that would happen?  NOT AT ALL.  No idea.

What is on your list that you could do that would make you happier, provide less stress, etc?  Life is short, peeps.

Friday, March 2, 2018

American Billiard Radio Continuing

As I sadly wrote about in January, David Bond passed away.  He was the DJ and breath behind  American Billiard Radio.

Mike Howerton of AZBilliards and I decided to try and keep Dave's dream alive and so Mike is leading the podcasts now, just not weekly as Dave could do, and I have agreed to still be a regular contributor.

Mike and I talked last night and the podcast is located here.  I felt like I was in an inquisition!  But seriously, he asked great questions that I enjoyed answering (and of course I talked about a couple of recent blog articles).  We also talked about how Dave will be missed and his unexpected passing.

RIP David.  I hope we are making you proud.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Looking At Other Options - The Danielson Series

I know that Danielson doesn't do well in a tournament when I have to ask him how it went.  Otherwise, he reaches out to me right away with excitement to share how he did in the tournament.  

This time, I had to reach out to him, so I already knew it probably wasn't going to be a "happy report."

I want to share something that many pool players go through.  Sometimes when we have a really good year, and yet still don't see that we can be one of the very top players of a tour (for example), we get discouraged.  Hear me out.  Basically, if we have several years of no success, you'd think that would make one want to quit.  Well, sometimes that does happen, but more so, the lack of success makes people WANT to play more and keep fighting.

Using me as an example, until I was successful in my mind and with my goals, then it was the right time to step away.  It was surprising to myself I was successful as I had become, but I was also realistic - I'm not pro material and my day job pays my bills anyway.  So, while other people questioned my decision to not compete anymore on regional tours, it made perfect sense to me.  Had I not had those few successful years, I know I'd still be competing to try to win that coveted title or be more successful in my game.  But because I had been successful, I was able to easily step away.  Further, it felt like a natural time to do so.

Danielson is at this crossroad.  After his latest tournament, I had to pry out of him what was going on so I could write this blog post.  You know, it's all about this blog lol.  And the Danielson fans needed an update on how he was doing!  And what he finally confided was he was glad he scratched hill-hill his last match so he could go home, and not come back on Sunday.  This was two-fold.  One because it was past 1am and it would be a short turn around and the other was he is not excited right now about playing.

Sure, he had a very successful last year, but he's also thinking realistically right now (or, he just had a bad tournament experience and is venting lol).  He shared in his grumpy message, "I'm wasting money.  And even with the success I had last year, it's evident it's not near enough to be in the top 10.  With the money it cost me this weekend, I could have played in that 10-ball event in Austin.  If I'm buying an experience, I could be getting more for my time and money."  

He continued to vent, "It's a lot of time to and from the tournament location and an average of $200 to go play these tournaments... and at my skill level I have little chance of getting half of that money back.  Even the top 6 at every stop last year the average Fargo was 640...I might be wasting my time."  

(Danielson's Fargo is around 565). 

I asked him about the cost, to break it down for us.  Here is how he figures around $200-$250 cost a stop:
  • $50 entry fee
  • 1/2 Calcutta ($20-$60)
  • Eating twice ($20)
  • Twice raffle tickets ($40)
  • Gas ($20)
  • Drinks ($50)
And that's if he doesn't buy anyone in the Calcutta but himself.

So, he's starting to recognize that playing on a tour may not be the best for him right now. 

However, he's STILL very much so eyeing other tournaments and events, and still enjoying the new team he's on.  So, he's not considering quitting competing at all, it's adjusting his options of where he wants to play that would be more advantageous either money-wise, experience-wise, or distance close to home.

I had to pry this information from Danielson, and the reason why is honestly because we feel kind of sad/embarrassed/ashamed of these thoughts.  But let me shout out to you now, IT's NORMAL!

So, if you are feeling the need to step away from a tour, or league, or "expected" event - realize that these are normal, natural feelings.  You aren't going far, though, rest assured.  Just maybe taking a different path to your next pool table.  :)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Golf Etiquette and Kicking Out Rude Fans

I read an interesting article the other day about a rude fan being ejected from a golf tournament!

Can you imagine if we did that during pool tournaments?  I can envision sweet claps of joy and calmness filling the room as they were escorted out.  Ahhhh.....

You can read the article yourself here, and it talks about a fan who was verbally shouting out that Justin Thomas' ball should hit the water or go in bunker.  Eventually, Justin asked that he be removed.  In the article it also quotes Justin and why he chose that action against the fan.

At first I read with delight, imagining being able to kick a rude fan out from a pool tournament, lol.  But what struck me MORE from the article was these two paragraphs, comments from the writer (Kevin Kaduk) of the piece:
If you’re one of those people who think this is the latest case of pro golfers being special little snowflakes, it’d be hard to argue with you. Professional athletes in other sports deal with much worse on a regular basis.
But if you’re a golfer or a golf fan, you know this isn’t something that’s tolerated on the golf course. Respect for other players is baked into the DNA of the game and going to a tournament usually isn’t about rooting for one player or another but appreciating the competition — and giving the golfers the space and atmosphere to achieve that.
Instead of being excited about this possible option to kick out a fan, lol, I was more disappointed and wishing that pool had the same "DNA of the game" as golf.  I find it intriguing that bad behavior isn't really tolerated in golf and respect for the players is held in high favor.  But in pool, let's face it, we don't have that.

We have players trying to cheat with breaks, sharking, etc trying to get an edge to win.  In other countries, this type of behavior is NOT tolerated at the pool table.  But for some reason, here in the US, it's almost norm to play pool in an atmosphere that is the opposite of calm and welcoming.

Is it too late for us to be like golf?

Yes,  I'm afraid so.  But, hey!  Wishful thinking!  Maybe the teenagers playing pool today will help our sport become as revered as golf.